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LOS ANGELES Tuesday, August 4th 2015 4:54

 LA'S UPSET NEIGHBORHOODS

People are Pissed! Can a Revolution be Far Behind

Dick Platkin and George Abrahams
LA IN MOTION-Throughout LA’s vast 500 square miles are many self-identified neighborhoods. Ninety-six of them have formed official Certified Neighborhood Councils (CNCs), as established by the Los Angeles City Charter. But, the real number of neighborhood groups is much larger, and they reflect tremendous differences in concerns, demographics,…

Exposed: Guess Who’s Leading the LAUSD Witch Hunt Against Teachers

Leonard Isenberg
CONSIDER THIS-How is it that the LAUSD's go-to outside law firm Sedgwick L.L.P. (that was embroiled in the Miramonte scandal and sanctioned for covering up evidence) is running teacher investigations, teacher jail, and the current witch hunt against nationally acclaimed teacher Rafe Esquith? As CityWatch has previously reported, LAUSD's latest…

DWP Ratepayers Facing Billions of $$$ in ‘Taxes’ Over the Next Five Years

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-Over the next five years, the Ratepayers of our Department of Water and Power will be hit up for over $3.7 billion in taxes by City Hall as a result of the combined 20% levy on the power portion of our DWP bimonthly bill. And this does not include the billion dollar-plus price tag associated with the IBEW Labor Premium and its overly…

Politics: Let's Say Goodbye to the Snark

Ken Alpern
POLITICS FOR GROWN-UPS--It's been so long since the terms "liberal" and "conservative" were considered decent and honorable that probably most readers don't even know that they once were perfectly fine labels to bear with pride and respect. Ditto with respect to "Democrat" or "Republican". Yet after not one but two presidential eras where the…

Gang Wars: Don’t Just Send Cops to South LA

Ken Stone
URBAN PERSPECTIVE--With stepped-up police patrols continuing in South Los Angeles, community groups and clergy called on city and county officials Friday to bolster resources for gang-intervention programs and services for at-risk youth and adults. Twitter meme about Los Angeles gang violence.The groups spoke out in response to a wave of violence…

They Love Us This Much

Rick Risemberg
LA’S NEIGHBORHOODS--Yes, the photo is of a hole. Specifically, an incipient sinkhole on Hauser Boulevard where it runs through Park La Brea. It is about eight inches deep. It has been guarded for over a year by its faithful traffic cone. A companion pit behind it suffered the usual indignity of a half-baked cold-patch repair, and is now itself…

Latinos: More Concerned about the Environment than Average Americans

Fred Mariscal
LATINO PERSPECTIVE-Yes it’s true, according to recent polls, Americans of Latino descent are more worried about the quality of our air, water and the alarming effects of climate change already impacting our country, than the average American. Anyone who says that Latinos are only concerned with immigration doesn’t understand the complexity of…

Hey, Councilman Koretz … Westwood is for Bikes Too!

Joel Epstein
DEAR PAUL--LA City Councilman Paul Koretz that is. Say it ain't so! How sobering to read in the LA Times and The Daily Bruin that you now not only oppose bike lanes on Westwood Blvd but also want to strike the planned lanes from the City's Mobility Plan. Such a move would be totally unprecedented and would reverse nearly a decade of bicycle…

Could Molly Knight Be Vin Scully’s Successor?

Tony Castro
TONY CASTRO’S LA-For almost four decades, my summers have been passed listening to Vin Scully religiously, bemoaning the cutback in his announcing schedule and, I suppose, unconsciously preparing myself for that day when Vinny calls it a career. I am also one of those baseball fans who wears headphones and listens to Scully call a game on the…

 

Reynolds Rap Video: Korea Was Made in China.





Art or Ad? LA’s mural law written in gray ink

Escape the Room-Conan goes for the record … and the laffs


LADWP Rates Overview

 

 

  

 

 

 

NC Grievance Panel Tackling Thorny Issues: ‘Serial Grievers’, Punishment for Boards

UPDATE - In attempting to create a rational but humane system for hearing complaints against neighborhood council governing boards, the grievance working group has made progress.
As I explained in CityWatch last week, the working group seemed to be heading towards an overly authoritarian plan, one in which panels nominated by neighborhood councils would consider complaints from the public, rule on the merits of those complaints, and pass sentence on the offending neighborhood councils.

What concerned me and numerous others was the essentially unlimited scope of punishments envisioned in this process, ranging all the way up to firing an entire governing board of a neighborhood council.

The working group met for one last time on October 19, 2011 and debated this question intensely.

Len Shaffer, president of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition, gave an instructive speech in which he attempted to interpret the thinking behind the original directive from the LA City Council.

This required that neighborhood councils include grievance procedures in their rules. Shaffer suggested that the intent went beyond the minimal requirement that aggrieved parties merely have a chance to vent their feelings during public comment.

He suggested that the desire was for something a little stronger, something more like a process by which truly injured parties could explain the basis of their hurt to an impartial group of people and ask for help.

This original concept would be consistent with a formal system of grievance panels such as the ones under discussion, provided that we correctly define and limit what such panels can do.

Shaffer's remarks contained within them the inference that such a grievance system does not automatically have to include a system of punishment, but would better work as a system by which opposing parties could talk things out.

Only if and when a neighborhood council refuses to comply with the rules should it be sanctioned, and even then, this process would have to be carried out by DONE. The discussion was a little more detailed than I have described here, but this briefer version will suffice. The working group was generally sympathetic to this argument.

The suggested plan that ultimately resulted would, if enacted, be a huge improvement over the previous model, as it includes checks and balances that were not in the original.

In essence, the proposal goes like this: A person who is serious about a grievance can file a complaint with DONE and, under the proposed system, DONE would communicate the complaint to the accused neighborhood council governing board and to the grievance panel that is to hear it.

The grievance panel would still be selected out of volunteers nominated by governing boards, but its duties would be a little different than previously envisioned.

In brief, the grievance panel would consider the merits of the complaint, taking care to afford due process to both sides. The panel would then report its findings as to the merit or lack of merit of a complaint. In this sense, the grievance panel would act as a fact finding body, much as a jury would act in a court case. This by itself would be a substantial change in our neighborhood council system, since no such volunteer based fact finding system has been tried so far.

The working group also agreed that a grievance panel could recommend actions to cure a proven offense. For example, suppose a governing board held a meeting in the absence of proper advance notification and someone filed a complaint. This would likely result in a recommendation to redo the meeting with proper notification.

There was some additional debate about whether a grievance panel should go further by recommending punishment. Any such "remedy" would have to be agreed upon and administered by DONE or some other official government body. Even if the system were to go this additional step, the grievance panel itself would have no direct power to punish.

In this proposed system, there is one additional service to be provided by DONE staff. Complaint and grievance letters that come to DONE will be evaluated as to whether the claims would, if factual, rise to the level that is required for them to be considered grievances.

For example, if someone complains about the outcome of a vote by a governing board, and that vote was otherwise legal and proper, this does not rise to the level of a grievable offense. It is just a political decision that one person happens not to like.

Grievances, to be considered actionable, have to rise to the level in which the governing board violates a rule badly enough to do damage to someone's rights or interests.

One other issue came up during the meeting. It is a separate problem that has bedeviled certain neighborhood council boards for years.

It is called 'the serial griever" problem by its victims, and refers to the fact that a few people continue to file complaint after complaint, generally without merit, and often just as a repetition of the same subject. One neighborhood council has received close to 50 complaints from the same person.

In another council, the president has recently received 3 complaints from one individual over the period of a few weeks. This is a drain on peoples' lives and has wasted the time of the City Attorney and of DONE.

In discussion, we asked the people who receive these complaints why they bother to act on them at all. Why not just throw them in a box and ignore them? The answer was that their bylaws require them to go through the whole procedure for any complaint.

The City Attorney and others pointed out that they could change their bylaws and no longer have to respond. The virtue of doing things this way would be that serial grievers could send complaints to DONE, which has paid staff to deal with such things, and DONE would filter out the truly meritless complaints.

Additional discussion included the fact that we have just gone through a year's organizational work  to create the peer mentoring groups and the Roberts Rules instructional group. The purpose of these organizations is to prevent the sorts of actions that lead to complaints and grievances.

The goal is to have a system with enlightened leadership, one that works so well that we won't see a lot of complaints.

(Bob Gelfand is the vice chair of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition and an occasional CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at amrep535@sbcglobal.net) -cw

Tags: Neighborhood Councils, Grievance System, Len Shaffer, City Council, serial grievers, City Attorney, DONE



CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 86
Pub: Oct 28, 2011


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